A Step-by-Step Process of Thematic Analysis to Develop a Conceptual Model in Qualitative Research

Muhammad Naeem*, Wilson Ozuem, Kerry Howell, Silvia Ranfagni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
142 Downloads (Pure)


Thematic analysis is a highly popular technique among qualitative researchers for analyzing qualitative data, which usually comprises thick descriptive data. However, the application and use of thematic analysis has also involved complications due to confusion regarding the final outcome’s presentation as a conceptual model. This paper develops a systematic thematic analysis process for creating a conceptual model from qualitative research findings. It explores the adaptability of the proposed process across various research methodologies, including constructivist methodologies, positivist methodologies, grounded theory, and interpretive phenomenology, and justifies their application. The paper distinguishes between inductive and deductive coding approaches and emphasizes the merits of each. It suggests that the derived systematic thematic analysis model is valuable across multiple disciplines, particularly in grounded theory, ethnographic approaches, and narrative approaches, while also being adaptable to more descriptive, positivist-based methodologies. By providing a methodological roadmap, this study enhances the rigor and replicability of thematic analysis and offers a comprehensive strategy for theoretical conceptualization in qualitative research. The contribution of this paper is a systematic six-step thematic analysis process that leads to the development of a conceptual model; each step is described in detail and examples are given.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Early online date8 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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